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The Genius In Apple's Vertical Platform

CmdrTaco posted more than 4 years ago | from the a-tad-optimistic dept.

Apple 432

Precision found a nice little piece of speculation on the real reason behind Apple's recent efforts to restrict app development to XCode. While the standard given reason is to kill competition from Flash and other stacks, this story speculates that the real reason has to do with the unusually large die size of the A4 processor inside the iPads. Worth a quick read.

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FTFA (2, Funny)

Stenchwarrior (1335051) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857352)

Noah Wyle looks funny with a beard.

'Genius' and 'Apple' in the same sentence??? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857366)

WTF??????

Doesn't account for all the wording (5, Interesting)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857396)

Not only does Apple restrict you to compiling your code in c, c++,objective c with the iphone sdk, they prohibit any code that was not originally written in one of those languages. The article would make sense, if the only restriction Apple had in place was that they code be compiled by the iphone sdk. That is not the case, as far as I know.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (5, Insightful)

MrHanky (141717) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857524)

No, the article doesn't make sense at all. Why assume the A4 is a dual-core PowerPC when it's built for an OS that restricts the use of multitasking? It's almost like suggesting using four wheel drive on a motorcycle. This writer is just a total and utter wanker, predicting 50% speed increases for reasons founded in pure fantasy. Bullshit story.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (1, Redundant)

Altus (1034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857592)

Maybe they made the A4 with the knowledge that they were going to enable more multitasking in the next release of the OS (which they are). Sometimes companies actually plan ahead on these kinds of things.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858112)

Yes, similar to how IBM sold (dunno if they still do) machines with extra CPUs disabled, so they could be brought online later when they were needed. It made a lot of sense.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (2, Informative)

Coren22 (1625475) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858252)

Naa, Apple would make you pay for that kind of upgrade in the future.

Its always done multitasking (2, Informative)

Viol8 (599362) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857678)

Its just the GUI apps that it suspends, all the backend stuff still works fine otherwise as soon as you ssh'd into a jailbroken iphone everything else would hang while ssh ran.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (2, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857684)

Except Apple is gradually adding multitasking. OS 4 is getting much closer to a final solution. They're just taking the time to do it right. Even if the processor is multicore it's still not a 6 core Xeon so they can't just waste CPU time. Unlike most manufacturers they actually care about not pushing out a crap product with all the bells and whistles that won't actually work well.

I don't think it makes sense not to allow code translation to Obj-C though. I don't know how they can really enforce that anyway since the code can look just like any other code and compile just as well (if not better - thanks to good optimization by the translator).

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (3, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857812)

the iPad has 10-12 hours of on in heavy use time. Everything else is an epic fail in comparison. I'd gladly give up features to get that kind of battery life from a windows tablet or a netbook.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (1, Funny)

imakemusic (1164993) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857832)

OS 4 is getting much closer to a final solution.

Interesting choice of words. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (1)

teeker (623861) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858238)

Wow. That was the most gentile Godwin-ing of a discussion I've ever seen. :)

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (5, Funny)

Thud457 (234763) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857860)

Dude, the phrase "final solution" in regards to anything related to Jobs makes me very nervous. Please don't do that again.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857970)

They're just taking the time to do it right.

"We're not wildly behind the times while other implementations have been {some functionality} for years now, we're just 'doing it right'."

When Apple says it, they get a pass. When others say it (e.g., Microsoft) they're morons.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (5, Insightful)

Albanach (527650) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858248)

Even if the processor is multicore it's still not a 6 core Xeon so they can't just waste CPU time.

Yes, I hated the way I could only run one application at a time on my Pentium 3 desktop.

Seriously now, we've been multitasking for a very long time with /single core CPUs. It's a pretty poor excuse to say .we're taking out time to do it right'

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (1, Interesting)

tk77 (1774336) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857790)

iPhone OS 3 not only supports multitasking for 1st party apps, but it also supports multithreading for all apps. A cpu intensive app would then be able to take advantage of multiple cores. iPhone OS 4 also introduces "Grand Central" into the mix which along with the new background process ("multi-tasking") support would further benefit from multiple cores.

It's also obvious that OS4 has been in the works well before the iPad came out. OS 3.2 was most likely just a way to get the device out early.

I'm not saying what the article is saying is true, but it does make sense.

"WTF" moment (4, Informative)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857810)

> Why assume the A4 is a dual-core PowerPC when it's built for an OS that restricts the use of multitasking?

"WTF" quote of the day. What does dual-core have to do with multitasking??????????????? Windows did multitasking long before dual core chips existed.

On a related note, the iPhone DOES multitasking; it just doesn't let the USER multitask. How do you suppose an incoming call gets through while you´re listening to music?

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (2, Insightful)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857850)

Given that iPhone OS 4 was well into development when the iPad was released (since it went into developer beta literally days later), and was almost certainly in the planning stages while the hardware of the iPad was being chosen; and given that iPhone OS 4 support multitasking.... Your argument make no sense at all. Not that I don't agree that the writer is quite likely wrong, but your reasoning is completely flawed.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857862)

No, the article doesn't make sense at all. Why assume the A4 is a dual-core PowerPC when it's built for an OS that restricts the use of multitasking? It's almost like suggesting using four wheel drive on a motorcycle. This writer is just a total and utter wanker, predicting 50% speed increases for reasons founded in pure fantasy. Bullshit story.

Multitasking != multithreading.
And iPhone OS 4.0 is around the corner.
For the rest of your comments, "glass house" and "stone" and "throwing" come to mind.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (2)

bguiz (1627491) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857894)

This writer is just a total and utter wanker

Mod parent +1 insightful (not sarcastic) - All you have to do is read the comments on his post so far and they tell you that -

1. That he is rehashing someone else's ideas from a day earlier:
http://sachin.posterous.com/ie6-caused-the-web-to-mature-slower-than-it-w [posterous.com]

2. That his central point is moot:
"They are not telling people to use Xcode, they are telling people they can only publish application 'originally written' in Objective C. This is quite different."

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (1)

mikes.song (830361) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858016)

Is that multitaking or multithreading? Just because you can not currently switch between different programs, doesn't mean that software won't benefit from an extra core.

Also, seems to me, the iPad was to ship with iPhone OS 4.0, but the hardware was ready before the software, so they had to do something, so they made iPhone OS 3.2 for iPad only, with the features that are ready.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (5, Interesting)

marcansoft (727665) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857848)

The guy who wrote the article is clueless.

These ridiculous claims remind me of that "tapionvslink" guy who swears that the Wii has a GPGPU with programmable shaders and twice the RAM and all sorts of things that the homebrew community knows are bullshit, just because he did some broken math on die sizes. He still maintains that we're all ignorant and just haven't figured out what real Wii games are doing with the GPU. Riiight.

Seriously, if the iPad were PowerPC, don't you think we'd know by now, considering it's been jailbroken? Chipworks also tore down the chip and found nothing unusual; it's just another mobile ARM. Also, no one in their right mind would ever use a CPU emulator on a mobile platform OS. It's one of the best ways to completely nuke your battery life, not to mention performance. It's a cute theory, but it's so thoroughly impossible it's not even funny.

Re:Doesn't account for all the wording (3, Insightful)

mzs (595629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858254)

I agree the article writer is a moron. I thought you might appreciate this though. I have a newer HP calculator. Since HP years ago laid-off all of the calculator division, no one was left when they made the HP50. An outside group put that one together. It has an ARM and uses an emulator to run much of the old Saturn software from the HP48. It seems to run just as long on a set of batteries as my 48S and 48G did, and it is incredibly faster running the old stuff.

It's all about platform lock in. (5, Insightful)

dc29A (636871) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857854)

Why does everyone think this has anything to do with technical issues? This is all about lock in, 100% pure business move.

Apple doesn't want cross compilers because that makes the iPhone just another smartphone because everyone and their dogs will be writing code for smartphones, not iPhones exclusively. Apple has to maintain the image of the iPhone to be unique, not just the 'PC' of smartphones. If cross compiling is allowed, and a person is fed up with the iPhone, nothing stops him/her/it to switch to a WM7, RIM or Android phone. Why? Because the software is probably available on those systems. Now, if some developers will stay iPhone exclusive because of the hassle of maintaining two codebases (One CS5 cross compilable and one Apple approved), people will have harder time to migrate to other platforms because their precious software only runs on iPhone OS. Why don't people switch to Linux en masse? MS Office + DirectX. Apple wants the exact same platform lock in for smarphones as the one Microsoft has achieved for PCs.

Führer Jobs is shit scared of Android, that's why the new draconian developer restrictions (and HTC patent suits), not because some [insert technical excuse here]. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your point of view) Adobe is going to be collateral damage unless Flash on Android/ChromeOS takes off heavily. Jobs wants to stop the Android momentum at all cost, because if he doesn't, iPhone will be the 'Mac' and Android will be the 'PC'.

Disclosure: I have an iPhone 3GS.

Re:It's all about platform lock in. (4, Insightful)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858012)

If it were a change in policy I'd find it interesting. But Apple has been a closed platform pretty much since the very beginning. Along the way they have alternately paid a huge price for their insistence onthis policy and they have also been greatly rewarded. However, what they have not done is bend one inch from the basic philosophy that Apple controls the user experience on its products.

This aspect of Apple really, really, should not be news anymore.

Interesting, but... (3, Insightful)

capt.Hij (318203) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857412)

It is a well written, well reasoned article. It even makes sense. It is also pure speculation. Basically it comes down to "die too big" == "epic win" This is tech, and we can do better than this.

Re:Interesting, but... (5, Insightful)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857504)

What is not speculation is the debate over whether or not the A4 is an ARM core: it *is* an ARM core. Just disassembling the output shows it at once. It also takes an idiot to believe Apple would spend even more time writing an ARM emulator core for PowerPC just to make sure their iPad runs software compiled with the iPhone SDK. This isn't another case of PowerPC->Intel switch. Geez.

This wasn't a tech article. It was strategy. (1, Insightful)

AnonymousClown (1788472) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857530)

FTFA:

Apple can essentially treat the CPU as a commodity—and this will enable them to continually adjust 'make vs buy' strategies, wield incredible power over suppliers, and build a long-term halo around their platform.

I found that to be very interesting. Instead of the old strategy of having multiple kernels for each processor out there and having the customer choose which version they want, Apple is doing the choosing; which puts them in the driver's seat.

The Micro kernel type of software design never really seemed to take off - Intel killed off or sidelined the other CPU suppliers and it made the Micro kernel a moot point and made Intel the dominant CPU maker out there. AMD still has to follow Intel's lead, btw.

What Apple is doing.....Intel should be very afraid of the future. Apple also needs to be careful because many of their innovations are going to be copied - they will have to protect that brand vehemently.

Re:This wasn't a tech article. It was strategy. (1)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857712)

Well, it's not as straight forward as it seems. If they switch from ARM to PowerPC or x86, it's still going to take a recompile. So then every person who's written code either will need to recompile for each platform, or it would need a fat binary (with binaries for each supported platform). When you have one or two platforms to support, a fat binary can seem like a good idea (and it may in fact be one). But if you're talking 4 or 5 platforms (with iterations of each), then is a fat binary really worth all that added weight (a 1mb program taking 5 or 6mb of space. A 20mb program taking 100+mb)??? If they are going the recompile route, then the app store would need to take into account the platform, and then serve the correct binary. It's definitely not hard, but it is an added level of complexity into an already complex system. What would happen when a developer only compiles for one platform? Does it not show for the rest? Or is Apple going to do all the compiling (you give them your source, and they generate and store the binaries)?

I'm not saying that this is a bad idea at all. I'm not saying it isn't interesting. I'm actually more curious about how they plan to implement it if this is what they are doing...

Re:This wasn't a tech article. It was strategy. (1)

quadelirus (694946) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858120)

Disclaimer: I doubt Apple is about to change chips, and so this is simply a hypothetical discussion.

It would be trivial to have developers compile to some large universal binary that basically contained binaries for each supported architecture and then on App Store submission, simply strip out each version and deliver the correct one to each individual device. In fact, I would wager they are doing that now already so that when an iPhone user downloads a Universal iPad/iPhone app they don't have to get all the extra high res graphics and code for the iPad version. This is a really simple engineering problem.

It's the only option with closed platforms. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857576)

When you're using a platform that is closed as tightly as the iPad is, you really have no recourse but to speculate wildly like this, even when your speculation is probably based on bullshit assumptions to begin with.

It's pretty fucking astounding, actually, that developers put up with this. If you don't even have the slightest idea of what platform(s) your app is running on, then you're just looking for trouble. When you're developing for under-powered hand-held devices like the iPad, you're just looking for trouble if you aren't aware of what the platform is capable of. And this awareness only comes from knowing exactly what hardware your app will be running on.

Re:It's the only option with closed platforms. (1)

NekSnappa (803141) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857968)

WTF on you on about? Did you plan on writing assembly code for this thing? There is no reason to have to know exactly what the processor is, and all of its specs otherwise.

There's a reason for the SDK. If you write in one of the supported languages, using the supplied API's everything should work out just fine.

Hell, you can even test your work using the emulator. Although that never seems to be 100% accurate WRT accelerometer functions, it'll give you an indication that the interface is OK.

So in this case a tightly controlled platform serves this purpose better. No need to worry about which audio card is installed, does the GPU have HW support for the video codec you're using, etc.

Re:Interesting, but... (5, Informative)

ircmaxell (1117387) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857596)

It would make sense... If it wasn't filled with nonsense. The larger die? It's because the system RAM is built into the chip. Not because it's running some new dual core design. Apple banned writing in another language. Not compiling using anything but XCode. Some of the converters out there will covert down to Objective-C and then compile them with XCode. With his speculation in the article, that should be fine (because it's compiling with their compiler, and should be the exact same as if written in O-C in the first place), but it's banned. I do agree that it is well written. But well reasoned? It starts with a pair of flawed premises, and then makes some pretty good reasoning based on them. But all of that reasoning is inherently flawed due to the flawed premise.

What bothers me, is that people who don't know any better will read this article and think "Woah, cool! They are doing something smart!" when it's all really unjustified based on his reasoning (I'm not going to comment on if it really is smart or not)...

Re:Interesting, but... (0, Redundant)

Angst Badger (8636) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857696)

It is a well written, well reasoned article.

As breathless cheerleading goes, I suppose.

Re:Interesting, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857714)

It is a well written, well reasoned article. It even makes sense.

Words fail me.

Re:Interesting, but... (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857988)

right, "die too big" could also mean they used a cheaper older fab technology with lower resolution.

Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857414)

I don't care if Apple has reasons for this or not. I don't like Apple, so that means they're a monopoly just like Microsoft, and should be required to do whatever any other company wants cause it's in the constitution.

Also, there's a company in Germany that's gonna make a competing product that will blow the iPad out of the water cause it'll be open and run Flash and OpenOffice and has higher ghz on the processor and more memory and it's the hardware specs that make the difference, and I know everything, and the market should decide everything and Apple doesn't have the right to do anything to try to protect their investment in the iPhone OS as a platform cause I say so.

Did I mention they're an evil monopoly? And that Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler, cause he's got a reality distortion field and makes people pay the Apple tax?

Re:Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (-1, Redundant)

leomekenkamp (566309) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857474)

I took me a few seconds to realise you are making fun of immature Apple-bashers. Where are mod points when you need them. +1, Funny.

Re:Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (-1, Offtopic)

TedTschopp (244839) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857586)

Wow, Godwin's law already? after around 10 posts.

Re:Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (0, Troll)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857746)

You think you're funny but you've got that backwards.

> I don't like Apple, so that means they're a monopoly just like Microsoft

Instead it's: Apple is becoming a monopoly not just like Microsoft but worse. Therefore I don't think I like them anymore.

The only thing keeping them from being eligible from an anti-trust suit is just a little time.

The Neo-Lemmings will make sure that Apple gets in that position.

Re:Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (3, Informative)

cabjf (710106) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858128)

monopoly

You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Exactly what does Apple hold a monopoly over? Mac OS X? Apple iPods? Or maybe machines based on the A4 processor? Even in areas that Apple is one of the strongest, such as music sales, portable music players, or smartphones (even though that is just a subset of the cell phone market), there is still plenty of healthy and growing competition.

Re:Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857794)

It's a shame you don't know what a monopoly is. Your ignorance is pretty astounding, but typical.

Re:Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857972)

Good troll. Short, to the point, with the typical Slashtard tone of smug superiority and ironic accusations of ignorance.

I salute you, sir or madam. Good job.

Re:Steve Jobs is worse than Hitler! (1)

DrgnDancer (137700) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857990)

It's a shame you can't recognize an obvious parody hen you see one. Your ignorance is pretty astounding, but typical.

First post! (5, Informative)

cpotoso (606303) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857432)

He! He!

I think the article is absolute nonsense. The A4 has been "disassembled" and it is consistent with an ARM single core.

Re:First post! (1)

TheKidWho (705796) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857476)

Yes, well it also mentions that they might possibly do an architecture switch in the near future. This could be to a 32nm Atom based chip next year or who knows what. By forcing these requirements, they make the process of changing architectures seamless to the users and easy for the developers.

Re:First post! (2, Informative)

Virak (897071) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857748)

The article mainly hinges on the possibility that the iPad isn't using ARM to be wild speculation instead of merely completely insane speculation. The fact that this is already known to be false is a pretty major blow to it. And the fact that this policy affects things that produce code in approved languages and even things that produce Xcode projects to go with it pretty much completely destroys the argument that it's some wise and enlightened choice they have made for the good of developers and not just a complete dick move. It doesn't help either that Jobs himself [taoeffect.com] endorses this particular rationalization [daringfireball.net] of it, which puts forth a completely different argument.

Re:First post! (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857890)

that would be a step backwards. I'm betting a dual core of the current A4 design.... why? to keep the near magical battery life they have.

Honestly that is the single thing that will bit the butt of every other tablet that comes out. I dont care if it has X,Y and Z.. if I cant leave it on, screen on full bright, and using all the processor to decode a video for 10 hours straight... then it's a piece of junk. Atom right now drinks power... it needs a ton of refining to get it to sip that power a whole lot less while in full on processing mode.

Re:First post! (1)

Mofassa (975528) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857556)

For reference - http://www.chipworks.com/A4_is_Samsung_45nm.aspx [chipworks.com] ...about as conclusive as it can get

Re:First post! (2, Informative)

nweaver (113078) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858030)

Actually, thats NOT conclusive. If anything, its the opposite. There is no layout photograph, as everything is obscured by the area pins.

It identifies the process, and identifies a in-mask part #, but it does nothing to tell you about processor family, functional units, etc.

Re:First post! (3, Funny)

simoncpu was here (1601629) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857706)

Clearly, an ARM single core is too slow to keep up with real-time speeds required to successfully execute a first post.

Why can't MS do this? (4, Insightful)

0100010001010011 (652467) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857448)

Not the vertical integration, but the simple "Ok you're Applications are compatible now"

Apple has moved from 68k to PPC to OS X to Intel to ARM to (proposed) POWER) for both 32/64 bit and all it took in those last steps was flag in the compiler.

68k emulation in PPC was decent. Classic mode worked for most applications and Rosetta was as seamless as it gets. I understand that Microsoft has a ton of backwards compatibility they need to maintain, but if a company the fraction of your size can do it, why can't you?

Yes "FAT" Binaries are larger, but given how cheap HD space is, it's not too much of a concern of mine. (I gained more space deleting other languages). But to have a single, double clickable .app that runs on 4 platforms (PPC, Intel / 32, 64bit), naively.

Side note, and legitimate question, does Linux do fat binaries? Can I compile something that runs on my AMD64 and ARM machines and put it on a thumb drive?

Re:Why can't MS do this? (3, Informative)

ubersoldat2k7 (1557119) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857526)

No, but it's doable: http://icculus.org/fatelf/ [icculus.org]

Re:Why can't MS do this? (1)

Cougar Town (1669754) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857594)

It's also usually unnecessary. Linux usually comes as a distribution, and usually some specific platforms are supported. There are usually package repositories, so all software is available from the correct repository for that platform.

Of course, there are exceptions to this and cases where a fat-type binary would be useful, but for most normal everyday users, using one of the common distributions (Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, etc), you don't have to worry about it. You just use your package manager.

Re:Why can't MS do this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857796)

What's Santa Claus have to do with Linux binaries?

Re:Why can't MS do this? (2, Insightful)

Webz (210489) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857644)

They can't /because/ they're big. Sure they can do a lot of things from a resource perspective. But inertia is holding them back. Organizational constraints. More people have to want change and agree to change than a small, agile company.

It's all about inertia.

Re:Why can't MS do this? (1)

cynyr (703126) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857676)

yes and no, afaik, all a fat binary is a double packed bin. a simple folder with both in it would work just as well. you would of course also have to staticly link on linux. even then it gets harder than that.

Re:Why can't MS do this? (1)

Altus (1034) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857692)

yep, binaries (fat or not) take up very little space; Its the resource files that make applications large for the most part.

Re:Why can't MS do this? (1)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857730)

68k emulation in PPC was decent. Classic mode worked for most applications and Rosetta was as seamless as it gets. I understand that Microsoft has a ton of backwards compatibility they need to maintain, but if a company the fraction of your size can do it, why can't you?

er... so these periodic compatibility updates I see for Windows aren't related to backwards compatibility? Including the Windows 7 one back in February that fixed Warcraft 3's video playback (that's the only fix I noticed for stuff I had)?

Yes, there are still problems, particularly for games (Ex: Syberia [wikipedia.org] crashes on my Win7 x64 PC when you enter the factory courtyard, even in Windows 98 compatibility mode; I run the entire game in a VMWare Player [vmware.com] Windows XP VM now... won't work in VirtualBox or Wine because WineD3D only supports D3D 8 and 9), but MS does have a lot of compatibility shims to make everything from Windows 95 to present run. Having said that, the 64-bit version of Windows will not run 16-bit Windows applications (for Windows 3.1 or earlier) at all.

Of course, since Snow Leopard doesn't even include Rosetta to run PPC programs from 5 years ago, expecting Windows from 2009 to run 1993 applications is a stretch.

Re:Why can't MS do this? (1)

tepples (727027) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857744)

Yes "FAT" Binaries are larger, but given how cheap HD space is

Mobile bandwidth (3G) and rural bandwidth (satellite) are still expensive, as is SSD space.

Re:Why can't MS do this? (1)

diegocg (1680514) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857836)

"Fat binaries" are just a tar-like file with binaries of several architectures. It's not rocket science. Apple needs such things because of the way they make their machines, but Linux has supported multiple architectures for a long time, and has fixed it in the package manager.

Re:Why can't MS do this? (2, Insightful)

bickerdyke (670000) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857930)

I understand that Microsoft has a ton of backwards compatibility they need to maintain, but if a company the fraction of your size can do it, why can't you?

Because they only have a fraction of the software?

Because Apple always has been in the position to NOT care about hardware compatibility issues?

It's ARM, not PowerPC. (2, Informative)

carlhaagen (1021273) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857452)

The article is missing a big point: it IS ARM. Just debugging the code shows it is ARM, not PPC. "No one really knows." Geez. Step into the "reverse engineering" of 1980 already.

Re:It's ARM, not PowerPC. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857564)

The article is saying the ipad is running an emulator for ARM and that at some time in the future, apps (requiring xcode) will be compiled for PowerPC rather than ARM, skipping the emulator and running at higher performance. Wouldn't one expect debugging under this scenario to give ARM code?

Re:It's ARM, not PowerPC. (2, Insightful)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857728)

The article is missing a big point: it IS ARM. Just debugging the code shows it is ARM, not PPC.

I think you missed the point entirely. His speculation is that because the chip is so big, he thinks the extra space on the chip might actually be a native Power processor, and that the CPU is currently running the code in an hardware-based ARM emulator, rather than executing on-die ARM instructions.

Then, when OS XI comes out for the iPad, it'll be written in native Power instructions and the chip will execute new apps twice as fast.

Re:It's ARM, not PowerPC. (1)

plover (150551) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857782)

Caveat: I don't believe this crazy conspiracy crap either. My understanding is that people who've analyzed the chip say the extra real estate is occupied by more primary cache, not by more ALU circuitry.

Doesn't hold up, they already x-rayed the A4 (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857466)

The die size is due to putting memory chips on die for lower latency.
It doesn't contain magical other processors.

But this guy has a pet theory about Apple and damned if he's gonna let facts get in the way of his idea!

Apple Fanbois (5, Interesting)

nhtshot (198470) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857470)

Disclosure: I'm writing this from a Mac. I like my Macs. I like Apple. I'm not delusional like this guy.

If you didn't RTFA, there's no need. It's just some Apple fanboi trying to find genius and conspiracy where there isn't any.

Are you serious? Constricting developers because you're going to change the platform? Really? I wonder if the article author even believes this crap.

Emulating a cpu you could just as easily install for real? Never mind going back to an architecture (POWER) that you've already EOL and that is wholly unsuited for the platform (high power consumption, high heat output).

He's right that Apple is a story in vertical integration. They're doing it the same way Rockefeller did. They want to control the entire platform.

Re:Apple Fanbois (1)

Wovel (964431) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857590)

I agree with most of your comments, but Power CPU architecture is still widely used in a wide range of shipping products.

Re:Apple Fanbois (1)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857602)

Constricting developers because you're going to change the platform? Really?

That's how it's traditionally done, isn't it?

Re:Apple Fanbois (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857664)

You're probably the only fanboi I'll ever like.

Because The Processor Sucks? (0, Troll)

johnsie (1158363) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857488)

Most other pads have an Atom processor and can process anything that a netbook can. Apple are really lacking when it comes to hardware and software in the Ipad. It's like they are using technology from 5 or 6 years ago and claiming it to be new. Wifi and a rubbush pda are nothing new Apple, get with the times.

Re:Because The Processor Sucks? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857718)

And because all other pads use an Atom they run significantly hotter and have shorter battery life. Hooray!

Breaking news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857496)

Apple gets criticized for insane control freak policy, apologists rush to write poorly thought out defenses of The All-Knowing Overlord His Greatness Steve Jobs. Come on Slashdot, I'm sure you can find better things to post to meet your "at least one iPad story every damn day" quota.

Re:Breaking news (0, Offtopic)

eexaa (1252378) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857558)

MAN! it's the first (well kindof) positive thing about ipad ever, and you're still mean!

a thought for the day. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857536)

just to say that the next apple story i want to see, read, or comment on is when jobs croaks - hopefully the restrictive products, the apple name, and the tiresome followers will fade with that gaunt little turd of a man.

doesn't consider translation; argument is invalid (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857560)

The article is interesting, but incorrect.

Converting from to objective-C is fine for the purposes he's talking about (allowing the compiler to build to 'native', where 'native' can change over time.) If you have a language that is 1:1 with C/ObjC and easily translated (there are many), then this argument is entirely moot.

(Further, its not just Flash we're talkin gabout.. BASIC, assembler, python, etc, are all impacted and outlawed (again.)) Heck, numerous games use ARM asm, which is now outlawed .. the ASM is to provide superior performance, as Xcode (gcc) is decent compiler, but no match for hand tooled assembly in 'just the right places'. (Don't argue this; compiles are great, but talk to emulation authors for ARM devices about dropping in a few lines of ASM :)

So no, its not really about native compilation speed. Its about blocking non-Apple tools, with the pretend reason that Apple makes the best tools.

I see it differently.... (1)

gabereiser (1662967) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857612)

I see Apple's new restrictions in two ways. Yes, one is to eliminate competition, no Flash, no Mono, only c/c++/obj-c code native to apple's platform. And there lies the second, the Apple platform. Apple restricted it's policy on iPhone and iPad SDK because they want you to use XCode, why? so you have to go out and buy a Mac if you don't have one already. So, you wanna make an app but don't have a mac, you have to buy one ~$1,800 as well as the device itself (~$599 or so for a decent iPad). Then you can test and debug your apps to sell them for pennies. I see it as a marketing move to get more people to buy macs. Period.

here's my two cents.. (1)

tabooli (927310) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857614)

I believe part of the reason Apple is forced to have "restrictive" development requirements and stringent rules about apps is because they NEED the user experience to be consistently top-notch. Look at all the hate directed at something like Windows by the uninformed.. if an app sucks on Windows, people tend to blame Windows. If Apple allowed for free selection of tools and languages and did not control delivery of apps then it would be much more difficult for them to provide the proper infrastructure that allows MOST apps to feel like a real Apple experience.

Re:here's my two cents.. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857842)

This whole "preserve the experience" nonsense only makes sense if they started out this way.
Except they didn't start out this way. They started out pandering to the developers. They
seemingly did everything they could do to encourage others to help build their platform for
them.

Now that it seems that they are on top, Apple wants to change the rules.

They want to change the rules and dispose of many of the developers that got them into the
position they are today.

sustainable growth (1)

bl8n8r (649187) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857624)

You can't be an end-all-be-all company and expect to be around long-term. Seems to me for a tech company to succeed in the long run, they need to focus on doing one thing *extremely* well. People expect Apple to trump their previous creations. Once the "oooo poniez!!" mentality wears off, and the kool-aid begins to taste like warm piss, people will want more-and-better. You can't keep doing that because technology does not evolve at the pace people want new gadgets. So, people get disillusioned, you push out new products in hopes of quelling the whining and your products can't live up to their reputation. Maybe jobs is just planning on being relevant for 10 years, dunno.

Re:sustainable growth (1)

JaredOfEuropa (526365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857910)

No kidding: Apple -are- focusing on doing one thing extremely well: vertical integration. Look at the iPhone: the design, the hardware, the OS, the interface, the app store, the tie-in with mobile operators, connections to other services: none of it really stands out as truly innovative. And not all of it is of particularly high quality in itself, in fact some components are decidedly sucky. But it all comes together extremely well. Call it vertical integration, or controlling the platform as another /.er did... Jobs himself called it "controlling the user experience" IIRC, but that is what they are good at: controlling it, and delivering an experience that is unmatched even if it is lacking in functionality or freedom of choice.

ps. I'm not a heavy Apply user, my PCs are all Wintel... I do however own an iPhone.

Re:sustainable growth (1)

ben_white (639603) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858044)

You can't keep doing that because technology does not evolve at the pace people want new gadgets. So, people get disillusioned, you push out new products in hopes of quelling the whining and your products can't live up to their reputation. Maybe jobs is just planning on being relevant for 10 years, dunno.

This reminds me of the joke of the two campers who are surprised at night by a bear. The first camper calmly begins putting on his shoes while the second one freaks out and begins to run screaming "those shoes won't help you outrun the bear." The first camper answers "I don't have to outrun the bear."

Your statement is probably true. But if Apple is successful in vertical integration they can stay ahead of their competition in offering new and compelling devices, even if not quite up to consumer expectations. They have a pretty good track record over the last decade.

Vertical integration has substantial risks, and is difficult to pull off. Many companies try and end up selling off the acquired assets at a loss a few years later. If Apple can pull it off, I doubt they'll be the flash in the pan you suggest.

Re:sustainable growth (1)

Bruha (412869) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858046)

Do not forget Apple loves to make new hardware incompatible with older hardware. My Mac Pro can not run newer video cards. My only thinking at the time, is that GPU's become too slow over the long term, CPU is just fine still. We'll they prevented me from using the new cards even though they'd run fine in Windows on the same hardware.

So I went out and built a more powerful machine than my Mac Pro, and I dont have to buy shiny new video cards, I just go SLI with a second one of the type I bought with the machine I built. Then upgrade to a new shiny card, when a single model blows my SLI pair out of the water.

I went with Linux, then Mac, then back to Windows 7. What I have learned, you can use anything and make it work, but Linux shines for servers, Apple is a trap to be avoided, and Windows has finally gotten their act together.

Microsoft BANS Java on Windows... How about that? (0, Troll)

viraltus (1102365) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857766)

Sure sure the reason is to improve performance in the applications run on Windows; from now on you will ONLY develop applications with Visual Studio and any application run on Windows will need approval.

Ins't there any Antitrust law against what these Apple dudes are doing?

Re:Microsoft BANS Java on Windows... How about tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858022)

As far as I know, Adobe is preparing one.

Re:Microsoft BANS Java on Windows... How about tha (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858150)

Ins't there any Antitrust law against what these Apple dudes are doing?

How many times do we need to go through this?

Apple isn't a monopoly, in mobile products or any other market. Monopoly is not a synonym for "company that places restrictions on their products that I don't like." Microsoft is a monopoly. The status of Microsoft as a monopoly in desktop operating systems was decided as the result of a trial in US federal court. Under the laws of the US, monopolies that exploit their status to control markets and other kinds of anti-competitive behavior may be subject to strictures imposed upon them by the government.

Preventing competitors from making products that run on your platform or for making tools to write software on your platform is not illegal, per se. It may be illegal if a monopoly is doing it, but you need to be a monopoly in the specific area in which the activity is taking place. So, for example, the Visual Studio thing might not fly, but, note, that Microsoft is free to impose restrictions on developers for the XBOX or WinPhone 7 because they don't have monopolies in that market.

Hope that resolves this for you, and that we never need to have this conversation again.

Why hobble a new product? (1)

redelm (54142) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857864)

TFA just doesn't read right -- if the iPads have dual Power CPUs, why hobble the machine with emulation that is later removed to give the fantastic jump? New products don't succeed that way.

If the iPads have dual PPCs, then their OS & some key apps would be written for it. Along with an emulator for the [many] iPhone Apps which would probably run noticably slower than on iPhone/iTouch. A dual CPU is _not_ going to cover for ~10x emulation slowdown.

Tools AND Architecture (1)

Bryan3000000 (1356999) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857878)

Adobe is seriously upset about this, while they have basically said "no big deal" to a shift to HTML5. That's because Adobe doesn't make money from Flash - they make money from the tools to develop and design for Flash. They have the hearts and minds of the developers and designers, and switching their tools to run on something other than Flash seems to be part of their plan. In fact, it would be incredibly shortsighted if it wasn't part of their plan.

But I think Apple is doing better than just "anticompetitive" behavior, which would be reason enough. Fine, the A4 is just an ARM. I seriously believe Apple that although they might not be preparing for a platform shift in the near term, that this is a completely rational step to prepare for another almost-certain platform shift in the long term. Even if they don't know what architecture that might entail.

They own that game since it's their vertical, and absolutely nothing can help Adobe or any other company keep up. Adobe has already shown enough lack of ability to keep up when they so delayed moving their Mac tools to native x86 - it took a couple of years. So Apple says - if you want on our bandwagon, you have to keep up. And to keep up, you have to do it our way.

Unnecessarily wordy description (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31857928)

unusually large die size of the A4 processor

Unless the die size is printed in a large font, I think you simply mean "unusually large die of the A4 processor". See how the word "large" already lets the reader know that it's size we're dealing with? See, I reduced the sentence size of your sentence.

The standard Practice (1)

imp (7585) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857962)

1. Make a core that's too big to fuel speculation
2. Seed the press with rumors of this from bloggers that get on /.
3. ????
4. PROFIT

They've X-Rayed and Dissected the Freaking Chip... (2, Insightful)

Telephone Sanitizer (989116) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857978)

http://www.ifixit.com/Teardown/Apple-A4-Teardown/2204/1 [ifixit.com]

It's not a "dual core Power Architecture."

According to the teardown, the chip is "quite similar to the Samsung processor Apple uses in the iPhone."

iFixit concluded that it was a Cortex A8 in there and I've seen nothing to contradict that.

Lame speculation (1)

CoffeeDog (1774202) | more than 4 years ago | (#31857986)

You figure if the iPad was actually a different architecture with some kind of ARM emulator as suggested, that they would have pushed this move a long ago instead of days before Adobe's CS5 release when the iPad is already in consumers' hands and also flogged this new magical OS 4.0 speed boost during the developer's talk. And ultimately Apple is still treating developers like they don't know what their doing trying to "protect" them from the evils of alternate development tools. Sure if Apple changes architecture then they would have updated tools ready on day 0 so there is no gap, but the rest would quickly follow suit unless Apple decides to make a completely closed hardware platform as well.

Wow (5, Funny)

codeButcher (223668) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858010)

A4??? That IS really big for a die size. But why oh why not Legal, since Apple is American?

iToilet specs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858180)

"If they made a toilet, I'd buy it." -- iPad purchaser quoted in Newsweek.

Okay, the iToilet would look really slick, but
* It would have no flush handle. Apple will decide when the time is right.
* Anything put into it would have to be pre-approved by Apple.
* Apple keeps 30%.
* Using it in public to impress strangers could be awkward.
* and, of course: no Flash.

Summary slightly wrong (1)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858204)

While the standard given reason is to kill competition from Flash and other stacks, this story speculates that the real reason has to do with the unusually large die size of the A4 processor inside the iPads.

This isn't a great summary. To quote the article:

This week Apple confined developers to a specific set of tools (XCode). A lot of people think this is to kill Adobe Flash. Sure, that is a tactical reason, but there are much broader strategic reasons. By telling developers to move to XCode tools, Apple is setting the stage to potentially switch architectures.

History often repeats itself: In 2003, Apple advised developers to switch to XCode tools. This was not a coincidental move--2 years later Apple moved to Intel across its entire Mac line. Developers who complied could simply press a button and applications would run natively (full performance) on new Intel Macs.

As John Gruber noted [daringfireball.net] Adobe shipped Intel-native versions of Creative Suite 16 months after Apple began shipping Intel-based Macs (and about two years after Apple announced the Intel transition).

If you are going to switch architectures, the last thing you want is to be held up waiting almost a year and a half for Adobe to get around to updating their developer tools.

(Then there is a whole bit about the iPad possibly already moving away from ARM but I don't know enough about that to be able to comment)

Anonymous Coward (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858216)

they sure get a whole lot of indirect publicity, i can't seem to be able to open a paper without seeing APPLE stamped on it lately

Its actually a 256 core MIPS processor... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858244)

Its the worlds first on-chip 256 core NUMA architecture. The memory interconnects in the northbridge are arranged in a hypercube using photonic crystals for data storage and retrevial vs pathetically slow slow sram. While with x-ray inspection the cores look like an ARM processor the core actually uses plasmons rather than pushing electrons. We didn't have a device capable of clocking the actual clock frequency but you can be assured the ALU and cache clocks run at least 50Thz.

There is also an embedded GPU with 4096 shader processors each operating at 88.8ghz.

If you've noticed when you've plugged in the iPad after a days use the lights in the rest of the room appear to dim slightly.. This is because the device is actually powered by a 20mw/hr Lion-Air battery and they limit charging to prevent tipping their hand.

Apple Dev cpu agnostic push - old news (1)

magbottle (929624) | more than 4 years ago | (#31858266)

Really. No news here. Everyone one got that one long ago.

Potential that the new Apple chip is not actually what "experts" have been pretending it is, well, sure.

retarded (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#31858268)

i doubt apple is running an ARM emulator on iPad.

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